Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling on soldiers and civilians to fight back against al-Qaeda-inspired gunmen who have taken over the country’s second city of Mosul.
It Is the biggest success yet for fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, who have gained considerable territory in western and central Iraq and eastern Syria.
The US says the group now poses a threat to the entire region. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said: "There's a responsibility on the part of the Iraqi leaders to step up to the plate here, that includes Prime Minister Maliki, to do more to address the unresolved issues and better meet the needs of the Iraqi people."
Al-Maliki has promised to fight back, saying: "This is just the latest round of fighting against ISIL and it won't be the last. We will continue the fight against them with the help of the people of Mosul. Al Qaeda and ISIL don't have the numbers to control the city. They don't have the power to confront the Iraqi forces.'
But pictures have emerged of army convoys leaving Mosul. One witness said soldiers threw away their weapons, changed their clothes, abandoned their vehicles and left the city.
So is Iraq’s government doing enough to secure the country? And how much of a threat do ISIL fighters pose to the nation’s security?
Presenter: Mike Hanna
Alaa Makki - an Iraqi MP with the Wataniya Alliance.
Shiraz Maher - a senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London.
Source: Al Jazeera